After the death of their mother, Chris Bottoms adopted his little brother Ted, and Chris and his partner Mickey settle down to raise him. Through paperwork left by his mother, Chris learns his brother has a deeply troubled past.
During a Thanksgiving visit with Chris and Ted’s maternal grandparents, they find out Chris’s grandfather allowed his friends to abuse Ted, so Chris severs all ties with that side of his family.
Through his job at a hospital, Chris hears of a surgeon at the Mayo Clinic who has developed an ileostomy reversal technique that has proven successful in cases like his. When Chris enters the clinic for preliminary testing, he learns he is a good candidate for the procedure and schedules the first of two surgeries for the beginning of January. A visit from estranged relatives while he’s in the hospital leaves him wondering how many secrets one family can have.
Mickey and Ted settled down in the waiting area, and Mickey could tell Ted was nervous and getting antsy.
“Ted, why don’t you read your book? It’ll help make the time pass and take your mind off of things.”
“I forgot about the book,” Ted said. “What did I do with it?”
“It’s in my briefcase.”
Mickey retrieved Ted’s book and handed it to him; then he pulled out his laptop and began to work on some reports he needed to finish. The two of them settled down to pass the time as best they could.
Eventually, Ted looked up from his book. “Uncle Mickey, how long before we know something?”
“A couple of hours, maybe three, I’m not sure. Just remember this -- we don’t want that surgeon getting in a hurry while he’s operating on Chris.”
“Because he might make a mistake.”
“Oh. But he’s gonna be okay, right?”
“There’s no reason to think otherwise. Why? Are you worried?”
“Come over here and sit beside me, kiddo.”
Ted left his chair and joined Mickey on the sofa, and Mickey put his arm around Ted and pulled him close.
“Try not to worry, Ted. We’ll get Chris through this, we just have to be patient.”
“I’ll try, Uncle Mickey, but it’s hard.”
“Yes, I know. I’ve already been through this once, back when he had his original surgery. But don’t worry -- they’ll come through that door after a while and tell us that everything went okay.”
“Are you sure?”
“Speaking from experience, yes.”
Ted returned to his book, and Mickey tried to focus once again on his spreadsheets but found that he couldn’t, so he leaned back against the upholstery, closed his eyes, and dozed off. He jerked awake with a start when he felt someone tugging his sleeve.
“Uncle Mickey, wake up,” Ted was saying. “The doctor wants to talk to us.”
Mickey sat up straight and saw that Dr. Banzhof was standing in front of them. “Sorry, I sort of dozed off for a bit.”
“No problem,” Dr. Banzhof said. “I just wanted to let you know that Chris came through the surgery with flying colors. He’s in recovery right now, and someone will let you know when he’s moved to the ICU where you can pay him a brief visit.”
“No problems, then?” Mickey said.
“None whatever, and while I was poking around inside him, I took a good look at everything, and it looks great. I think he’ll do extremely well when the time comes for phase two of the surgery.”
“Phase two?” Ted said.
“In about three months, Chris has to have another operation,” Mickey said. “We told you about it, remember?”
“Oh! You mean when they go back in and hook things up so he can poop like the rest of us?”
“That’s exactly what he means, and I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Dr. Banzhof said, barely suppressing a smile.
“Thanks for letting us know, Doc,” Mickey said.
Dr. Banzhof left the room; then Mickey grabbed Ted and hugged him. “You heard the doctor, kiddo. He’s gonna be okay.”
“Yeah. What happens now?”
“Now we wait. He’s in recovery, which means that they’re keeping a careful eye on him while he wakes up from the anesthetic. As soon as they’re satisfied with everything, they’ll move him to a bed in Intensive Care, and then we can see him.”
“You might as well go back to your book.”
“Before I do that, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure you can.”
“Do you mind if I start calling you Pop instead of Uncle Mickey?” Ted said.
Ted’s request caused Mickey to have an unexpected rush of feelings, and he said, “I don’t mind at all. Come here and give me another hug.”
Ted did so, and he and Mickey hugged for a long time. “Thanks, Pop. I think I’ll go back to my book now.”